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Older adults with cognitive and/or physical impairments can benefit from immersive virtual reality experiences: a feasibility study | Frontiers in Medicine

Background: Older adults living in long term care, rehabilitation hospitals, and seniors' residences often experience reduced mobility, sometimes resulting in confinement indoors and isolation, which can introduce or aggravate symptoms of depression, anxiety, loneliness, and apathy. As Virtual Reality (VR) technologies become increasingly accessible and affordable, there is a unique opportunity to enable older adults to escape their restricted physical realities and be transported to both stimulating and calming places which may improve their general well-being. To date no robust evaluations of the use of immersive VR therapy [experienced through a head-mounted-display (HMD)] for older adults within these settings have been reported. VR-therapy may prove to be a safe, inexpensive, non-pharmacological means of managing depressive symptoms and providing engagement and enjoyment to this rapidly growing demographic.Objectives: Establish whether it is feasible to use immersive VR technology as therapy for older adults who have reduced sensory, mobility and/or impaired cognition. This includes evaluation of tolerability, comfort, and ease of use of the HMD, and of the potential for immersive VR to provide enjoyment/relaxation and reduce anxiety and depressive symptoms.Methods: Sixty-six older adults (mean age 80.5, SD = 10.5) with varying cognitive abilities (normal = 28, mild impairment = 17, moderate impairment = 12, severe impairment = 3, unknown cognitive score = 6), and/or ...













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